FictionFan Awards 2014 – Crime/Thriller Category – Books in a Series

Drum roll please…

 

…for this year’s nominees and winners of the annual FictionFan Awards of 2014 in the Crime Fiction/Thriller Category – Books in a Series.

If you’ve been around the last couple of weeks, you might want to skip this bit and go straight to the awards. But for the benefit of new readers, a quick reminder of the rules…

THE CRITERIA

All nominees must be books I’ve read and reviewed between November 2013 and October 2014 regardless of publication date, but excluding re-reads. The books must have received a 5-star rating.

THE CATEGORIES

There will be Honourable Mentions and a Winner in each of the following categories

Factual – click to see awards

Genre Fiction – click to see awards

Literary Fiction – click to see awards

Crime Fiction/Thrillers – Books in a Series

Crime Fiction/Thrillers – Standalone Novels

 

…and…

Book of the Year 2014

THE PRIZES

For the winners!

I guarantee to read the authors’ next book even if I have to buy it myself!

For the runners-up!

Nothing!

THE JUDGES

Me!

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So, without further ado, here are this year’s runners-up and winner in

 

CRIME FICTION/THRILLERS

 

As usual, there are far more books in contention for this category, and many of them are installments in series that I follow. So, since I found it almost impossible to narrow the entries down, I’ve decided to have two sub-categories of nominees, Series and Standalones, each with a winner, and to split them over today and tomorrow. Here goes then…

BOOKS IN A SERIES

HONOURABLE MENTIONS

 

the killThe Kill (from the Maeve Kerrigan series) by Jane Casey

When an off-duty policeman is shot dead in his car it looks at first as though the motive must be something to do with his personal life. His widow seems angry rather than grief-stricken and his daughter has some unexplained bruises. But a few days later a team of officers is attacked while out on patrol and it becomes clear that someone is targeting the police in general. But no-one knows why…or do they? This is the fifth book in the Maeve Kerrigan series and continues the high standard that Jane Casey has set herself in the last couple.

Click to see the full review

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Saints of the Shadow Bible (from the Rebus series) by Ian Rankin

saints of the shadow bibleWhen the ‘double jeopardy’ law is relaxed, the Solicitor General asks Malcolm Fox to reinvestigate a case from the ’80s, one involving a young DC Rebus. Meantime, in the present day, Siobhan Clarke and Rebus are back working as a team. With the new rules on retirement age, Rebus has been taken back into CID but has had to take a downgrading to Detective Sergeant, meaning Siobhan now outranks him. They are called out to what looks at first like a straightforward road accident, but a couple of things about the scene make them suspect there may be more to it than that. A fine entry in the series that, as always, has great characterisation, a complex plot and a real insight into modern Scottish life.

Click to see the full review

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the papers of tony veitchThe Papers of Tony Veitch (from the Laidlaw series) by William McIlvanney

Tony Veitch has disappeared and it seems like half the city is looking for him. Laidlaw’s one of the searchers. He knows why he’s looking for Tony – his name’s come up in connection with Eck Adamson, a drunk and down-and-out, now dead; and it seems Laidlaw’s the only man who cares. But Laidlaw doesn’t know why some of Glasgow’s hardest men seem to be wanting to find Veitch too, and the question is – who’ll find him first? Glasgow, as the sum of its people good and bad, is the character that is at the heart of the book and McIlvanney makes us weep and rejoice for it in equal measure. A love letter from a man who sees the violence and darkness of the city, but also sees it as a place of courage and heart and humour – and ultimately integrity. A great book.

Click to see the full review

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A Dark and Twisted Tide (from the Lacey Flint series) by Sharon Bolton

a dark and twisted tideAfter her recent experiences, Lacey has stepped back from her role as a detective and joined the Met’s Marine Unit, patrolling the Thames. She’s also moved to live on a houseboat moored in Deptford Creek and taken up the highly dangerous sport of river-swimming. And it’s when she’s out swimming alone one early morning that she finds the first body…

This is another excellent entry in the Lacey Flint series, with all the regulars back in fine form. By a tiny margin, not the best in the series perhaps, but still one of the best books I’ve read or expect to read this year.

Click to see the full review

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FICTIONFAN AWARD WINNER 2014

for

BEST CRIME FICTION/THRILLER BOOK IN A SERIES

 

gallowglass

Gallowglass (from the Douglas Brodie series) by Gordon Ferris

Post-WW2 Glasgow. Douglas Brodie is back working at the newspaper and beginning to recover from the psychological after-effects of his recent involvement in the Nazi war-crime trials. But he still hasn’t learned how to avoid danger. So when Lady Gibson asks him for help, he finds himself unable to turn her down. Her husband, Sir Fraser Gibson, the Chairman of the Scottish Linen Bank, has been kidnapped, and Lady Gibson has decided to pay the ransom without involving the police. So Brodie sets off with a briefcase full of cash to make the rendezvous on her behalf. Needless to say, it doesn’t go according to plan..

This is the fourth and, I believe, final entry in the Douglas Brodie series, and the award is as much for the whole series as for this individual book. Now that we have all four books, we can see how Brodie’s character has changed in the few years since the end of the war – at first an all-action man, careless to a degree of his own life and others; then having to face the source of his nightmares and realise the damage that he’d suffered in the war – and finally, in this excellent last instalment, asking himself whether he can find some kind of peace and redemption, and have a future worth living. Although each works as a standalone, I would strongly suggest reading them in order to see the skilful way that Ferris develops Brodie’s character throughout. A great series, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And a very worthy winner.

Click to see the full review

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Tomorrow: The Standalone Award and Book of the Year 2014

Gallowglass (Douglas Brodie 4) by Gordon Ferris

R.I.P. Douglas Brodie…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

gallowglassDouglas Brodie is back working at the newspaper and beginning to recover from the psychological after-effects of his recent involvement in the Nazi war-crime trials. But he still hasn’t learned how to avoid danger. So when Lady Gibson asks him for help, he finds himself unable to turn her down. Her husband, Sir Fraser Gibson, the Chairman of the Scottish Linen Bank, has been kidnapped, and Lady Gibson has decided to pay the ransom without involving the police. So Brodie sets off with a briefcase full of cash to make the rendezvous on her behalf. It doesn’t go according to plan though – Sir Fraser ends up dead and Brodie is charged with his murder. His advocate girlfriend, Sam Campbell is doing everything she can to have him released, but all the evidence is against him, and Brodie can’t stand the thought of months of imprisonment followed by a probable trip to the gallows. As the book begins, we see Sam and Brodie’s mother weeping together beside his grave…it appears Brodie has taken his own life…

As we’ve come to expect from Ferris, this is a great thriller firmly rooted in the post-war Glasgow of the late 1940s. Ferris brings the city of this period to life and his use of dialect is great – it gives a real flavour of the language of the time without being so broad that it would be hard for a non-Scot to understand. This time the story centres round corruption within the banking system just as the Marshall Plan is about to be agreed (which saw the US giving economic support to the European nations to aid their recovery after the devastation of the war). With the government desperate to avoid any scandal that could jeopardise the Plan, Brodie’s old paymasters in MI5 are up against a deadline to find out the truth about Sir Fraser’s death.

Post- war Glasgiw... Photo credit: Bert Hardy/Getty Images
Post-war Glasgow…
Photo credit: Bert Hardy/Getty Images

The plot is complex and, while it’s not quite as explosive and action-packed as the early books in the series, it’s very credible and Ferris keeps it moving at a good pace throughout. The characterisation has always been a strength in the Brodie books and this is no exception. Both Brodie and Sam continue to develop and readjust to life after their wartime experiences. Wullie McAllister, chief crime reporter, is back in action and the force of his personality is in no way diminished by the fact that he’s temporarily confined to a wheelchair. Lady Gibson is a fine femme fatale in a story that may not be completely noir but certainly has its roots there. And wee Airchie Higgins is a gem of a character – a crooked accountant who’s trying to go straight, he reminded me a lot of the incomparable Russell Hunter’s performance of Lonely in the old Callan series – a rather pathetic wee man with a skewed moral code, but you can’t help but feel a sneaking sympathy and liking for him nonetheless. Very well-written, Ferris has again mixed danger and excitement with just the right amount of humour to make this a hugely enjoyable read.

Gordon Ferris
Gordon Ferris

I’m devastated to see that the Douglas Brodie books are now being billed as The Glasgow Quartet, which suggests that this fourth one is to be Brodie’s last outing. But if so, then I’m delighted to say that Ferris has maintained the high standards of this series to the end. In fact, much though I enjoyed the first two, (The Hanging Shed and Bitter Water), I felt that with the third, Pilgrim Soul, Ferris took a huge risk by breaking away from the action thriller format that had brought him so much success to give us a book that was altogether darker and more disturbing, dealing as it did with the subject of Nazi war-crimes and what we would now think of as post-traumatic stress. Now that we have all four books, we can see how Brodie’s character has changed in the few years since the end of the war – at first an all-action man, careless to a degree of his own life and others; then having to face the source of his nightmares and realise the damage that he’d suffered in the war – and finally, in this excellent last instalment, asking himself whether he can find some kind of peace and redemption, and have a future worth living. Although each works as a standalone, I would strongly suggest reading them in order to see the skilful way that Ferris develops Brodie’s character throughout. A great series, where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts – highly recommended.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

TBR Thursday 14…

Episode 14

 

Woo-hoo! Dropped to 101 this week! This new iron self-control thing is finally working…but how long will it last? Depends on how many irresistible new books come out, I suppose. And here’s a few I’ve already got on pre-order…

The ‘must read on publication day if not before’ list:

Missing You

A new standalone by Harlan Coben is always a must. Not great literature, maybe, but usually great fun! Publication due 10th April 2014…

It’s a profile, like all the others on the online dating site. But as NYPD Detective Kat Donovan focuses on the accompanying picture, she feels her whole world explode, as emotions she’s ignored for decades come crashing down on her. Staring back at her is her ex-fiancé Jeff, the man who shattered her heart—and who she hasn’t seen in 18 years. Kat feels a spark, wondering if this might be the moment when past tragedies recede and a new world opens up to her.  But when she reaches out to the man in the profile, her reawakened hope quickly darkens into suspicion and then terror as an unspeakable conspiracy comes to light, in which monsters prey upon the most vulnerable.

*****

good working class stockOne for UK political nerds only, I feel…so should suit me just fine! Publication of this book has been delayed so many times, but hopefully the new date of 1st May 2014 will stick…

Dennis Skinner, the famed Beast of Bolsover, is adored by legions of supporters and respected as well as feared by admiring enemies. Fiery and forthright, with a prodigious recall, Skinner is one of the best-known politicians in Britain. He remains as passionate and committed to the causes he champions as on the first day he entered the House of Commons back in 1970. In an age of growing cynicism about politicians, the witty and astute Skinner is renowned as a brightly burning beacon of principle. He has watched Prime Ministers come and go—Heath, Wilson, Callaghan, Thatcher, Major, Blair, Brown—and yet remains uncorrupted by patronage and compromise.

*****

the facts of life and deathBelinda Bauer’s Rubbernecker was one of the best crime books of last year, so this one is eagerly anticipated. Publication due 27th March 2014.

Lone women terrorised and their helpless families forced to watch – in a sick game where only one player knows the rules. And when those rules change, the new game is Murder.

Living with her parents in the dank beach community of Limeburn, ten-year-old Ruby Trick has her own fears. Bullies on the school bus, the forest crowding her house into the sea, and the threat of divorce.

Helping her Daddy to catch the killer might be the key to keeping him close. As long as the killer doesn’t catch her first…

*****

gallowglassFerris’ last book Pilgrim Soul took the Douglas Brodie series to a whole new level – will he be able to maintain that standard? Post-war period Glasgow noir. Publication due 3rd April 2014…

A brief editorial describes the tragic death of their chief crime reporter Douglas Brodie and staunchly defends him against the unproven charge of murder. It’s a brave stance to take, given the weight of evidence. The case is watertight: the bullet comes from Brodie’s revolver, the banker’s wife denies knowing Brodie, and Brodie’s pockets are stuffed with ransom notes. Samantha Campbell deploys all her advocacy skills to no avail. It looks like her lover is for the long drop. But in an apparent act of desperation—or guilt—Brodie cheats justice by committing suicide in his prison cell. Is this the sordid end for a distinguished ex-copper, decorated soldier, and man of parts?(Bet it’s not!)

*****

All blurbs are taken from Goodreads.

Any of these appeal to you? What other soon-to-be-releaseds are you eagerly awaiting?